Smart move? Nothing
The difference between Rick Hendrick and other owners is Hendrick understands how to manage his people to get the best work out of them.
Recall the famous milk-and-cookies meeting that turned Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus from bickering colleagues to a pair of four-time defending champion racers who love each other like brothers.
Johnson and Jeff Gordon have played nicely together until now, but Gordon's frustration is apparent. What should Hendrick do about this?
An angry and aggressive Jeff Gordon is good for Hendrick Motorsports. It means Gordon knows the No. 24 team is good this year. It means the four-time champion has some fire left in his tank. It means Hendrick still has two of the fiercest competitors in the sport.
No peace summit — yet
Los Angeles Times
Little, if anything. No figure in NASCAR is savvier than Rick Hendrick, and he knows better than to impulsively sit Johnson and Gordon down and order them to behave, as if they were a couple of grade-schoolers caught in a shoving match.
These are two of the best drivers in NASCAR history with four championships apiece, and Hendrick knows that passionate striving is what makes both of them tick. He's probably also delighted that Gordon is again showing such competitive fire, and that the jawboning is a plus for NASCAR's popularity.
Sure, they'll all talk during the week — the Nos. 24 and 48 teams are housed under the same roof, after all — but don't expect Hendrick to decide he needs to hold a peace summit. At least not yet.
A welcome rivalry
If Rick Hendrick cares about NASCAR, he does nothing with these spats between his stars, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.
This is exactly what the sport needs — a rivalry, a soap opera among drivers who matter.
Hendrick can talk all he wants about the need for teamwork, but this isn't Phil Jackson trying to get Kobe and Shaq on the same page in L.A. At its core, this remains an individualistic sport with drivers who put their lives on the line every weekend trying to win.
Johnson probably is to blame because he has been NASCAR's best — maybe of all time — and has tarnished Gordon's legacy in the process. After playing Mr. Nice Guy for so long, the frustration of being a second-class citizen — even on his own team — is starting to get to Mr. Smoothie.
Just what they need
Rick Hendrick should sit back, crack open a cold beverage and take it all in like any other good racing fan because this is exactly what the sport has needed.
No, few would have predicted the hottest rivalry in the sport this year would be between teammates and close friends in Johnson and Gordon, but it should be relished while it lasts.
Watching these two fight for position on the track and then trade fiery comments about each other afterward doesn't hurt the sport at all.
Gordon hasn't won a Sprint Cup series title since 2001 and at 38, time is running out to win another one. Teammate or not, the fact is Johnson stands in the way of Gordon winning another title, which, in some way, has to fuel the recent frustrations between them.